Police credit dog for saving missing Michigan toddler

Apollo, a 2-year-old boxer/pit bull mix who stayed with Princeton Peake after the toddler wandered about a mile from home in Waverly Township, Mich. Police were able to track the dog’s paw prints in the mud, which led them to the dog and the…

PAW PAW, Mich. - Michigan parents have their dog to thank for leaving a trail of paw prints that police used to track a 2-year-old who was missing for several hours.

Van Buren County authorities returned Princeton Peake to his parents after he escaped his locked home in Paw Paw early Wednesday.

Myhia Perez, Princeton's mother, said she woke up Wednesday to find her son missing from the bedroom and the front door unlocked. Domonic Peake, his father, said he panicked while searching the property surrounded by cornfields, woods and swamps. Peake only found his son's sippy cup.

"First thing I thought was he's face down in some water," Peake said. "I thought I was never going to see him again."

Perez said discovering that her son had gone missing was terrifying. "I about died," she said.

Sheriff Daniel Abbott said the family's pit-boxer mix named Apollo may have saved Princeton's life by staying by his side. Police followed Apollo's tracks to find Princeton in a muddy, wooded area up to a mile away. The toddler was discovered without his diaper, covered in scratches and bug bites.

"Without those dog tracks, without being able to track him for a half a mile in a muddy field, we wouldn't have had a good direction of travel of where that boy went," Abbott said.

Abbott had dog food and treats for Apollo delivered to the Peake home Friday.

"I owe it to my dog, because if my son was alone who knows what could have happened," Peake said.

He said Princeton is healthy and recovering at home. Two shiny new locks adorned the family's front door Friday, out of Princeton's reach.

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.